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If you are a level 20 Wizard who is True Polymorphed into an Ancient Brass Dragon, can you then use the Dragon's Change Shape ability to turn back into a level 20 Wizard, maintaining all your class abilities, but also gaining the dragon's hit points, and various other statistics listed in the text of Change Shape?

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No, you can't do this. Change Shape lets a dragon turn into "a humanoid or beast that has a challenge rating no higher than its own".

A level 20 wizard doesn't have a challenge rating. You could turn into the CR 12 Archmage, if you wanted, but you couldn't become any player character, because player characters don't have challenge ratings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure a level 20 wizard would have a CR much higher than 20.I calculated the CR of a level 20 fighter, and it was much closer to CR 15. Magical armour does raise it, but not to 20. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanderh
    Jul 15, 2015 at 12:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman: Recommend edit to para 2, about "higher than 20" unless you can show your work on the CR. (Larger point that Chars don't have CR is worth keeping). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2015 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Fair point. I might come back some time later when I have time to maths. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Jul 15, 2015 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ True Polymorph assumes that if a target doesn't have a CR it's level suffices as the CR. It's in the spell description. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2015 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli No, True Polymorph lets you transform players into creatures of a CR equal to their level or lower. Even if it was allowing level to stand in for CR, that would be specific to it and not a general rule. The DMG explicitly states that class levels do not correspond with CR in any way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Jul 16, 2015 at 0:02
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No.

In the spell description for True Polymorph (PHB, 283), it says:

The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form.

Having your game statistics replaced by the new form means that the only actions you can take are those specified in the stat block of the creature into which you have true polymorphed. Thus, while you are true polymorphed into an Ancient Brass Dragon, you can no longer use your wizard class abilities, which includes the Spellcasting ability gained at level 1. Thus, while under the effect of True Polymorph, your level 20 wizard has no spell slots, cannot ritual cast and so cannot cast any of your prepared or inscribed wizard spells.

While the spell lasts, you are an Ancient Brass Dragon, with all their stat block, including the Change Shape ability. Part of this reads as follows (MM, 104):

In a new form, the dragon retains its alignment, hit points, Hit Dice, ability to speak, proficiencies, Legendary Resistance, lair actions, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores, as well as this action. Its statistics and capabilities are otherwise replaced by those of the new form, except any class features or legendary actions of that form.

Class features are not gained. So an Ancient Brass Dragon (including a creature that has been true polymorphed into one) can Change Shape into a humanoid wizard, for example an Archmage (MM, 342). However, since the Archmage's magic is based on being an 18th-level spellcaster, this is a class ability (see MM, 10):

A monster with the Spellcasting class feature has a spellcaster level and spell slots, which it uses to cast its spells of 1st level and higher (as explained in the Player’s Handbook).

And so, the Ancient Brass Dragon that has Changed Shape into an Archmage cannot cast spells. If the dragon had decided to become, say, a Drow Mage (MM, 129), then it could use the Innate Spellcasting but not the Spellcasting (which is a class feature).

Basically, if you want a dragon that has shapechanged into a humanoid to be able to cast spells, they either need to have a magic item or to turn into something with innate spellcasting.

So can you turn back into yourself? If the DM rules that a typical dragon could Change Shape into a specific known humanoid, then yes can turn back into someone who looks and sounds precisely like you, and wears/wields exactly the same clothes and items (while having an Ancient Brass Dragon's "alignment, hit points, Hit Dice, ability to speak, proficiencies, Legendary Resistance, lair actions, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores" and ability to Change Shape), but this creature will have no wizard class abilities.

So you could pose as a famous/infamous level 20 wizard, able to generate reactions of fear/awe based on reputation alone, but who would actually be unable to cast a single cantrip without the aid of a magic item (and it better not be one that only a wizard can attune to!).

Ironically, confronted with this sham level 20 wizard, a hostile creature that decided to Dispel Magic at level 9 (or which had a very effective spellcasting check for a lower level version of the same spell) would immediately restore the full powers of the level 20 wizard. A delicious moment of irony.

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Since Fizban's Treasury of Dragons came out, you can do this with some dragons from that book, since the Change Shape ability of the dragons there don't require the Humanoid shape you are changing into to have a Challenge Rating and also doesn't take away your class features:

Change Shape. The dragon magically transforms into any creature that is Medium or Small, while retaining its game statistics (other than its size). This transformation ends if the dragon is reduced to 0 hit points or uses a bonus action to end it.

These dragons are:

Dragons with the Change Shape ability in the Fizban's Treasury of Dragons

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don’t think this works, the dragon keep its own game statistics, it does not gain the statistics of the creature it becomes. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ As @ThomasMarkov said, OP could transform back into his PC as the CR constraint is gone, but he wouldn't have access to his class features, as pointed out by BlackPuddingAteMyDesserts' answer. If this version of Change Shape doesn't have this constraint, you should point it out in your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zoma
    Feb 18 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Keeping the dragon's Attributes is beneficial, because they are higher than most PCs. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zoma I quoted the whole Change Shape ability of the new dragons. It doesn't have this constraint. I will add this detail to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov the True Polymorph spell specifically calls out that "The creature is limited in the Actions it can perform by the Nature of its new form, and it can't speak, cast Spells, or take any other action that requires hands or Speech unless its new form is capable of such Actions.". These dragons have hands and can speak Common. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19 at 19:29
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Yes, you can

When you are a level 20 Wizard, your challenge rating is likely lower than 20, assuming that you don't possess quite a bit of magical gear (meaning really powerful items). You could have a shot at trying to calculate your CR based on the process described in the Dungeon Master's Guide. However, this seems only valid for turning back as True Polymorph will use your level as players technically have no challenge rating.

Hence, you can turn into a CR 20 or lower Dragon. Taking into account the earlier comment about gear, the CR of your new form may even rise a bit but may very well not. In any case, you will be able to turn back into your old self using the Dragon's innate ability to change its form.

While your game statistics are replaced, you maintain the essence of your self, your level. I even remember there being an official discussion where someone mentioned that a level 20 Wizard polymorphing into a dragon wasn't a big deal as even though the dragon now also was a level 20 Wizard, the challenge rating was pretty much unaffected as the dragon is already quite powerful. However, I cannot seem to find the source (I'd appreciate any tips in the comments). So yes, you can turn into a dragon and still be a high-level wizard. You are now merely a dragon wizard who might have some trouble with those somatic components and their claws.

Turning back using change shape will also not replace your class features in any way. You will however loose your abilities that relied on your dragon form as mentioned by the spell. However, you will not be able to turn into a level 20 wizard, you will need to turn into a humanoid of a given race (you can likely choose whatever you were before though). You will gain average stats for all those that won't get replaced by the dragon's.

Now to answer your question philosophically, you never cease to be a level 20 Wizard. First you are a humanoid (Elf, Human, Halfling, etc) level 20 Wizard. Then you are a level 20 Dragon Wizard. Using Change Shape you will again become a humanoid level 20 Wizard.

TL;DR: Yes

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    \$\begingroup\$ By being a dragon wizard, do you mean that that PC could still cast wizard spells while in dragon form? that seems to contradict this question's answers: Does a caster under the effect of a True Polymorph spell retain their class levels? \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you please specify in what regard my answer contradicts the answer(s)? You linked the question. Not sure what I should look for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric
    Jan 7, 2021 at 10:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ You stated " You are now merely a dragon wizard who might have some trouble with those somatic components and their claws.". This implies to me that you assume your Dragon Wizard can cast spells. Both the first and second answer to the linked question contradict that. \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Jan 7, 2021 at 11:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ How does the sentence "However, True Polymorph does not allow you to use your class features (including the Spellcasting class feature)" not contradict your point. The Dragon Wizard cannot use his class features and he cannot spell cast as a wizard therefore. \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure what you mean. The answers on the other question come to the conclusion that you do not maintain the features. for example could a druid turned into a candle stick wild shape? nowhere in wild shape does it require speech or hands or anything like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Jan 9, 2021 at 23:30
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Short Answer: No, here's why:

True Polymorph:

The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality.

Nowhere in the Dragon's statblock does anything mention Draconic Wizard Spellcasting. If I am wrong, Please show me where a CR20 Dragon can Shape Change into a Level 20 Wizard to cast Wish. What Page in what official 5e rule book? I checked, I can't find a single Dragon able to Shape Change into a Spellcasting CLASS, from CR 0 through CR 30, in any official 5e book I am currently aware of, UA or official.

Shape Change:

Its statistics and capabilities are otherwise replaced by those of the new form, except any class features or legendary actions of that form.

Sage advice quoted the book when they stated: Spellcasting is a Class Feature.


Furthermore:

The (dragon) magically transforms into any creature that is (size), while retaining its game statistics (other than its size).

Meaning your Class would be “Dragon” with a subclass of whatever variety you picked, in this question you asked specifically about “Ancient Brass” subclass of the “Dragon” class.

Since Spellcasting is officially a Class Specific Ability, no you would not be a Level 20 Wizard; you might appear to return to your old form, though you wouldn't be able to cast any spells that specific “Ancient Brass Dragon” couldn't cast.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To give some downvote feedback here, the statistics of the new form (Ancient Brass Dragon) seems to include the Change Shape trait, so it is unclear how the text you quote supports your conclusion. \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you get the Dragon's traits, losing the Wizard's (target's) MENTAL traits. \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, and then you use Change Shape. Does Change Shape work or not? \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ You LOOK like your old form, without any spellcasting, and you are now exactly as smart, wise, and charasmatic as the Dragon, thus; you aren't changed into your old self, but instead a mimicry. \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I’m still not following. The question is about how Change Shape functions after true polymorph has been used, but I can’t tell that your answer addresses this. \$\endgroup\$ May 20 at 22:13

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